Book Review: Redshirts (John Scalzi)

Scalzi’s Star Trek spoof is a superficial romp, but a very enjoyable one. The crew of the starship Intrepid have come to realise that something is seriously wrong on their vessel. Crew assigned to expeditions alongside senior officers are liable to die in unexpected ways, while the Captain manages some risky and implausible escape. Officer Kerensky is hideously injured every other week, only to find himself fully recovered a few days later. On-ship technicians rely on a device called “The Box”, miraculously able to almost-solve a problem in the nick of time, but always requiring some obscure detail to be put right by the Intrepid‘s chief scientist. Officers have a tendency to speak rousing monologues while staring into the middle distance, and suffer strange compulsions to indulge in stupid — but dramatic — behaviour.

Rumours and wild theories abound on board, and everybody has some plan to make somebody else serve as the captain’s expendable sidekick. But a few raw recruits have the smarts to go further, and delve into the mystery of what is really happening on the Intrepid.

It’s a pitch-perfect take on the Space Opera. It’s entertaining enough even for a reader like me, who is far from steeped in the genre. The plot is fairly predictable, but that doesn’t stop the journey being great fun, and it’s short enough that you don’t mind.

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